Great Stakes Card at Laurel Park for Saturday

Press Release

Cash is King and Jim Reichenberg’s Ms Locust Point, already a stakes winner in each of her three local starts, puts that streak on the line as she goes after her first graded triumph in Saturday’s $300,000 Barbara Fritchie (G2) at Laurel Park.

The 66th running of the Barbara Fritchie for fillies and mares 3 and older and the 42nd renewal of the $250,000 General George (G3) for 3-year-olds and up, both at seven furlongs, highlight a 11-race Winter Carnival program featuring six stakes worth $950,000 in purses.

Sharing the spotlight are the $100,000 Miracle Wood for 3-year-olds at one mile and the $100,000 Wide Country for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs, joined by the $100,000 John B. Campbell for 4-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles and the $100,000 Maryland Racing Media for fillies and mares 4 and older at 1 1/16 miles.

Ms Locust Point has won three consecutive races since returning in November following a layoff out of her lone previous try in graded company in last February’s Forward Gal (G2) at Gulfstream Park. Her last two have come in the six-furlong Willa On the Move and What a Summer at Laurel, where she also captured the Gin Talking in December 2016.

Both of her recent stakes victories came in front-running fashion, kicking off her 4-year-old season Jan.20 with a three-length triumph in the What a Summer despite bobbling at the start to win in a sharp 1:09.78.

“She came out of her last race very good and she’s doing great. She’s going into this race good. We missed a couple days of training because of the track but, all in all, she’s sitting on go,” Parx-based trainer John Servis said. “Her last defeat she came out of the race with an issue and we had to give her a little time and she’s come back great.

“She’s maturing and learning how to settle a little more. She’s becoming a better racehorse,” he added. “She looks like a colt, and she’s got a pretty fast cruising speed. She can cruise along pretty good and just do that in hand comfortably.”

winter horse racingFavored in each of her seven career starts, Ms Locust Point lost her debut at Parx in October 2016 before graduating next out and capping her juvenile campaign in the seven-furlong Gin Talking. She tried the distance again last winter, opening up a clear lead before fading to fifth, beaten 3 ¼ lengths.

“When we first got her, about the third time we breezed her she did it so nice and well in hand. She was a little rambunctious then, so we kind of thought if we could teach her to settle and bottle up some of that speed we’d be a lot better off in the long run,” Servis said. “This would be a great race to win; obviously, it’s a graded stake. We’re just taking baby steps with her and trying to manage her the right way and find the right spots where she can continue to earn money and be successful.”

Regular rider Jorge Vargas Jr., who leads Laurel’s current winter-spring meet with 19 wins from 78 starters, will be up again from Post 9 at 118 pounds.

The most accomplished horse in the 11-horse field is Chester and Mary Broman’s millionaire homebred Highway Star, a four-time graded-stakes winner and 124-pound topweight who came up a head shy in the seven-furlong Ballerina (G2) last summer at Saratoga.

Trained in New York by Rodrigo Ubillo, the 5-year-old mare won the Gallant Bloom (G2), Ruffian (G2) and Distaff Handicap (G3) last year at distances from 6 ½ furlongs to one mile and also finished third in the 1 1/16-mile Ogden Phipps (G3) and second in the one-mile Go For Wand (G3) Dec. 2 at Aqueduct, her most recent start.

“In between seven furlongs and a mile, she handles those two distances very well. She likes the one turn. I don’t know if she knows the difference with an extra furlong. She doesn’t care, but that’s what she does best,” Ubillo said. “She just does everything right and she’s competitive. She always gives her best out there and she tries every time.”

Three C Stables, West Point Thoroughbreds and Robert Masiello’s Berned will make her 4-year-old debut in the Barbara Fritchie, having rallied from last of 11 to upset the seven-furlong Safely Kept by 4 ¼ lengths at odds of 8-1 Nov. 11, her most recent effort.

Berned has run in five previous graded stakes, finishing second in the 2016 Tempted (G3) by less than a length, and fourth in the 2017 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) and Charles Town Oaks (G3), the latter by 1 ¼ lengths.

Jockey Feargal Lynch, aboard for the second straight time in the Safely Kept, retains the mount from Post 6 at 118 pounds.

“When she won the Safely Kept, this was sort of the plan to point for the race at Laurel. She obviously likes the track a lot and Feargal’s got an awful lot of confidence in her and I think running on that track allows him to kind of let them run away from her early and then come with a run,” trainer Graham Motion said. “I always had her pegged as more of a mile and a quarter-type horse but the owners always thought she was more of a seven-furlong horse and it looks like they were right.”

Rounding out the field are Bishop’s Pond, winner of the Thirty Eight Go Go Stakes Jan. 8 at Laurel and Frisky Whiskey, both cross-entered in the Maryland Racing Media; Divine Miss Grey and Boule, 1-2 finishers in the Interborough Stakes Jan. 15 at Aqueduct; multiple stakes winner Quezon; stakes winner Moiety; Sky Flower, second in the Thirty Eight Go Go and third in the Nellie Morse Jan. 27 at Laurel; and Tazkeya, second to Ms Locust Point in the What A Summer.

The Wider World of Horse Racing’s Jim McKay: Celebrating His Life and His Work

This weekend is the Jim McKay Maryland Million card from Laurel Park.  Let’s look back at his amazing career life.

The late sportscaster Jim McKay, and his grandson, James Fontelieu, are shown attending the 1997 Kentucky Derby . McKay’s contributions to equine journalism and Maryland racing will be honored next month at Harford Community College. (Courtesy the …

Source: The Wider World of Jim McKay: Celebrating His Life and His Work

Champions Handicapping Tournament in Two Weeks at Laurel

The Maryland Jockey Club is accepting entries for the spring session of the Champions Handicapping Tournament to be held Saturday, March 25 at Laurel Park.

Berths to the NTRA/DRF National Handicapping Championship (NHC), Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) and BIG ONE tournaments are on the line as well as guaranteed prize money to the top 10 finishers.

A maximum of two entries per person will be accepted at a cost of $300 each, covering the $100 entry fee and $200 bankroll. The tournament will be capped at 300 entries.

The tournament winner will have their choice of one of two berths to the NHC or a berth in the BCBC or BIG ONE. The second-place finisher has the choice of one of the remaining three berths, the third-place finisher has the choice of one of the remaining two berths, and the fourth-place finisher will receive the remaining berth.

Tracks available for the tournament are Laurel Park, Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita, Aqueduct and Tampa Bay Downs, with no mandatory races. The minimum wager is $20.

For a registration form or further information, email Diana Harbaugh at Diana.harbaugh@marylandracing.com before noon March 24 or visit www.laurelpark.com/handicapping/champions-tournament. Registration by credit card can be done by calling 301-470-5432 before noon March 24.

The BIG ONE takes place Sept. 23-24 at Laurel Park, while the BCBC will be Nov. 3-4 at Del Mar and the NHC is held January 2018 in Las Vegas.